Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong: Challenge #5

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December’s here, which means you’re in full holiday baking mode. ’Tis the season for something extra-special: a traditional family Christmas bread, or a deluxe breakfast dish. But during this hectic time of year, the last thing you need is to spend hours in the kitchen laboring over a single fancy treat. Which brings us to our Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong challenge — an elegant yet easy way to salute the holidays.

Back last summer, we were having trouble deciding which of our favorite holiday pastries to feature for our December Bakealong. Light bulb moment! Why not survey our friends on Facebook? We offered several choices, and while panettone and hefekranz had their champions, in the end it was classic American-style kringle that won the day.

What is kringle, anyway? In its simplest American form, it’s a large (typically 13″), oval Danish pastry filled with pastry cream or fruit filling, and iced. Scandinavian in origin, it’s been adopted by Midwesterners — particularly Wisconsinites. In fact, kringle is Wisconsin’s Official State Pastry, and has put Racine, Wisconsin, onto the culinary map — courtesy of its numerous bakeries offering mail-order kringle worldwide.

Making Danish pastry at home can be a bear(claw); think butter-pounding and pastry rolling, folding and turning, cutting and shaping and filling… And all of that’s before you even get to baking and icing.

Suffice it to say, I did it once; never again. (Though those of you with a “crafty” bent would probably enjoy the process. It’s the journey, not the destination, right?)

Still, who doesn’t love Danish pastry?

Ditch the labor, keep the love: Making flaky, tender Danish-type pastry doesn't have to be difficult. Click To Tweet

We’ve devised a way to make a clone of true Danish pastry dough in an utterly simple, two-step process that takes kringle out of the bakery into your home kitchen — where all baked goods rightfully belong, come the holidays.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

So come along with me on our Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong challenge. You won’t believe how simple — yet ridiculously delicious — this holiday treat is.

And feel free to personalize it to taste. Butter-pecan is yummy (and our “turtle tweak” is a chocoholic’s dream come true), but you can top this tender pastry with your favorite jam, a slather of pastry cream, almond filling — be creative!

Let’s get started. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet that’s at least 18″ x 13″; or a 14″ round pizza pan.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Make the dough

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter)
1/4 cup cold water

*Want to make gluten-free kringle? Substitute our Measure for Measure gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour in this recipe.

Combine the butter, flour, and salt, mixing until crumbly.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Add the water, and stir to make a soft, sticky dough.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Shape the dough

Wet your hands, pick up the dough, and shape it into a 12″ x 8″ oval ring on the baking sheet; or a 10″ ring on the pizza pan. This will be messy going — the dough is VERY sticky — but just keep wetting your fingers and pushing it into a ring.

Tip: It helps to first divide the dough into four pieces, then roll each into a 9″ log. Connect the logs to form an oval ring.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Once you’ve made the ring, flatten the dough so it’s about 1 1/2″ wide; basically, it’ll look like a NASCAR track.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Make the batter

1 cup water
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter)
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon butter rum, eggnog, or vanilla butternut flavor, optional but delicious

Place the water, butter, and salt in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is boiling. Immediately add the flour, stirring with a spatula until the mixture is cohesive and starts to form a ball.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the flavor at the end, if you’re using it.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Spread the batter

Spread the batter along the ring, covering it completely. Smooth the batter with a bowl scraper or spatula.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Bake the kringle

It’ll take 50 to 60 minutes; when done, it should be a rich, golden brown. If you’re baking the gluten-free version using Measure for Measure flour, bake for 60 to 70 minutes.

While the kringle is baking, toast 2 cups pecan halves for the topping. You can stick them right into the oven with the kringle; spread them on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes or so, or until they’re starting to turn golden brown and smell nutty.

When the kringle is done, remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool completely on the pan.

Prepare the toppings

We’re making two versions of kringle here: butter-pecan, and chocolate butter-pecan (“turtle”). Both start with caramel and pecans.

12 ounces caramel, cut from a block (about 1 cup, packed); or about 3 dozen individual caramel candies, unwrapped
2 cups toasted pecan halves

It helps to use fresh, soft caramel here. If your caramels are the harder, supermarket-type caramels, add a couple of tablespoons milk or cream when melting, to keep them soft on the kringle.

You can also substitute your own caramel sauce. And, boy, do I have a GREAT homemade caramel sauce recipe for you! I keep a jar of this in my fridge full-time, along with homemade chocolate sauce.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Top and cool

Place the caramel in a microwave-safe spouted cup, if you have one; it’s not necessary, but makes it easier to pour. Melt the caramel until it’s bubbly, remove it from the microwave, stir a few times to smooth out the bubbles, and immediately drizzle it over the kringle. If it stiffens up, reheat briefly in the microwave.

If you’re using caramel sauce, bring it to room temperature to make it pourable, if necessary. Drizzle over the kringle.

Note: Whether you use the melted caramel or caramel sauce, don’t feel you have to use all of it. Simply apply artful arcs of caramel to taste.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Arrange the toasted pecans atop the caramel, pressing them in gently. Hint: a sprinkle of fine salt over the pecans and caramel at this point is a tasty touch.

Allow the kringle to rest, uncovered, until the caramel has set.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Drizzle with icing

Stir together this simple confectioners’ sugar icing:

1 cup confectioners’ or glazing sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half, or milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze
1/8 teaspoon butter rum, eggnog, or vanilla butternut flavor, optional but good
pinch of salt

Drizzle it over the kringle.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Or forget the white icing, and make “turtle” kringle by drizzling with chocolate ganache or chocolate sauce. Again, use just as much as you want; having leftover chocolate sauce or ganache in the fridge is money in the bank.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Want to cover all of your fan bases? The kringle is plenty big enough for you to try both simple vanilla and dark chocolate icing.

Butter-Pecan Kringle Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Share the holiday joy

Look at that golden, buttery pastry. The melted caramel and toasted pecans. Imagine family and friends wondering where you ever found the time to create such a masterpiece.

Just tell them you used this easy King Arthur Flour recipe: Butter-Pecan Kringle.

Interested in more? See our complete collection of Bakealong recipes.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Elliot

    Any chance this could be made vegan? I have Earth Balance butter, but what would be a good substitute for the eggs? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Elliot, we haven’t tried making the kringle using an egg replacer as they’re an important part of binding the pastry dough together. You could try making a double batch of the base and topping that off with dark chocolate and nuts, as the first layer doesn’t call for eggs. We also have some vegan dessert recipes that you might like to try; there’s lots of tasty choices from Dark Chocolate Cake to Chocolate Chip Cookies! Kye@KAF

  2. Nancy Mock

    One question for you about the choux dough: when I transferred it to the mixing bowl, before adding the first egg I mixed the flour/butter mixture by itself for a minute to cool it a little. I was worried about bits of cooked egg forming if I dropped the egg in right away. Has that ever happened to you, or am I just being too cautious? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question, Nancy! It’s always good thinking to pause for a moment before adding raw eggs to hot batter to prevent from cooking them; we’ve found that the kringle batter tends to cool quickly since it’s transferred to a cool bowl and then mixed while the eggs are added in slowly. If you’re still concerned about the welfare of your eggs, you can mix the batter for a few moments before adding the first egg. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. LynC

    I made the kringle today.Delicious! Loved by all. Made your caramel sauce a few days ago…. really good. One note: my kitchen is so dry, I often need more liquid than called for. This time more water in the first pastry layer and cream in the icing. I also should have baked the pastry longer..It looked perfect after 50 minutes but in the end the bottom layer wasn’t quite cooked through. But a taste treat for sure. Thanks and Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  4. Barbara

    I am another no nut person, appreciate the comment about using granola, but that is also on my no-no list. I was wondering about making streusel for sprinkling instead of the nuts and then drizzling the caramel and icing?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Barbara, while the topping really is a blank canvas that you can top as you wish, we think the best choices are ingredients that add some texture and can hold up to the layers of caramel. If nuts and granola are ruled out, you might consider using some dried fruit instead: cranberries, golden raisins, or chopped dates or figs might be nice! Kye@KAF

  5. Nancy Mock

    I had never made a Kringle before this one, and only worked with choux pastry once. This recipe turned out perfect! I increased the ingredients by 50% and then divided the doughs into 6 portions, to get 6 mini Kringles. As suggested in the tips, I topped them with toasted pecans, raspberry jam and lemon icing. Lovely, little holiday gifts for my co-workers!

    Reply
  6. Elise

    Two notes on this, as I’m making it today. I feel like more experienced cooks will be aware of these things, but feel they should be out there:

    1) When you add the flour to your boiling water/butter, it’s going to foam up. So add carefully, and even possibly off the heat.

    2) Adding this dough to your mixing bowl, your dough is going to be extremely hot, and I think the potential exists to cook your eggs. I beat a lot of the heat out of the dough first and I hope it doesn’t result in a tough finish–but the heat coming off the dough was extraordinary. So maybe beat some heat out, and then add your eggs one at a time.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Yes, Candy, though I’d suggest the best way would be to make the pastry ahead, freeze, thaw when ready, then top with the caramel, nuts, and icing. I’m afraid the icing might get runny when frozen/thawed. Good luck! PJH

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